Santa Barbara, known as “the American Riviera”, is a beautiful ritzy beach town with a mountain backdrop. Every year in college I participated in an event called the All Sorority Volleyball Tournament (ASVT) at UCSB; all I witnessed was beautiful college students taking their beach cruiser to the beach to play volleyball or surf. Playboy even ranked it on its top ten party schools list. After each weekend I vowed to transfer. Luckily, the sentiment wore off once I got back on my own campus, UCLA (go Bruins!) As an adult, I appreciate the Spanish style red roof buildings, palm tree lined streets and 360 degrees views of either beach or mountains. Needless to say it’s a beautiful destination, for an easy weekend getaway to refresh from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Friday: Tackle the Tacos
Get settled in your accommodation. Start your evening with what I call the Battle of the Burrito or Tackle the Tacos (mostly based on your favorite Mexican food, nerdy alliteration is clearly based on my work as an educator). Milpas, a largely Latino neighborhood, brings to light the diversity that Santa Barbara has that sometimes goes under the radar. My two favorite restaurants are La Super-Rica Taqueria (622 N Milpas St) and Los Agaves (600 N Milpas St). Be prepared for lines. Super-Rica, Julia Child’s favorite taco spot, is a no-frills restaurant that has been well publicized. It even got a shoutout in the Katy Perry song, “This is How We Do it”. While Los Agaves is less famous, still expect a line. They have many flavorful sauces!
Saturday: Rattlesnake Canyon, Hendry’s Beach and the Funk Zone.
Start your morning off with a hike through Rattlesnake Canyon hike (named for its hatchbacks, not the reptiles!)
Enjoy an afternoon at Hendry’s Beach:
Grab some brunch at the iconic Santa Barbara restaurant, the Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach (2981 Cliff Dr, Santa Barbara, CA) with it’s beautiful views. After eating, soak up some rays on the eponymous beach. If the weather does not permit a beach day, you can check out the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (1130 State St, Santa Barbara, CA) which has a great collection of sculptures.
Evening: Harbor view seafood dining
Enjoy waterfront seafood dining at either Brophy Bros (119 Harbor Way), which is crowded but has great fresh seafood and spectacular harbor views OR Santa Barbara Shellfish Company (230 Stearns Wharf), which is on the end of the tourists Stearns Wharf with seasonal fresh seafood waterfront views. For those who do not like Seafood, I love The Lark (131 Anacapa St), a converted fish market converted into a trendy american new restaurant. Sit in antique Spanish church pews.
After filling up on your fair share of seafood, santer over to the neighborhood called the Funk Zone, which has a lot of art galleries, tasting rooms for Santa Ynez Valley wines, and restaurants for evening festivities.
Start your morning off exploring (and window shopping) downtown Santa Barbara. The main drag runs down State Street. Don’t miss Santa Barbara Public Market (38 W Victoria St, which is one block off the main street and Alameda Square. Walk up to the Santa Barbara Mission, Rose Garden and Cemetery. You can easily spend two hours at the Mission and its surrounding environs.
In the afternoon, pack your car and grab a burrito for the car ride home from FreeBirds World Burrito (879 Embarcadero del Norte, Goleta, CA). A UCSB college favorite.
Enjoy the drive through Montecino, the luxurious neighborhood where the celebrities have their homes. Be on the lookout for Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres, and Drew Barrymore. If hunger pains are getting to you, enjoy a pastry from Jeannine’s Restaurant and Bakery (1253 Coast Village Rd, Montecito, CA 93108).
For those commuting back to Los Angeles, I recommend stopping at Carpinteria State Beach, where you can see the seals.
I hope you enjoyed a relaxing weekend in Santa Barbara, CA!